Drop your fuertes and cara caras for a second, because there’s some serious drama going down at The Hollywood Farmers Market (again). The L.A. Times follows up on the firing of the market’s founder and CEO, Pompea Smith, following 21 years of service. The ouster comes at the hands of SEE-LA, the nonprofit board that operates the market and its various satellite markets, which released a statement that expresses gratitude to Smith, while pressing on with its stated desire for “a change of leadership.” This quest for change eventually lead to the 10-to-1 vote, requested by Smith herself, that lead to her getting canned. What might be behind the firing?
The article argues that last year’s feud with The Hollywood Film School had a big impact on Smith’s stress levels and market perceptions regarding the septuagenarian’s management skills, trouble that bubbled over when mixed with hurt feelings that the market-supplied restaurant, Farmers Kitchen, Smith helped open (run by her son), was failing to attain profitability. There are also hints that several vendors and market managers who report to Smith were frustrated by working with her, and complained privately to the board, though specifics are slow to leak out and lips at SEE-LA are mostly sealed.
On the other side (the one we’re wildly and irresponsibly imagining menacing things about), the markets have become big business since the first was founded in 1991, and who knows what kinds of shady Hollywood developers and money-grubbing forces could be conspiring to get their hands into the kitty of an empire they’d like to see frequented by “a younger, ‘hipper’ crowd;” the kind of crowd that might want to buy into a Hollywood condo for easier access to Katsuya on Saturday before browsing the greens while seeing and be seen on Sunday, perhaps?
Smith expresses shock over her ouster, telling the paper, “I don’t know why they took this turn…They could have given more guidance. It feels awful and shocking. This is a very stressful time for me.” Smith is questioning whether to bring legal action against the firing, while Brenda Zamzow-Frazier is serving as an interim CEO.